Discover Wisconsin's Hidden Gems: Top 15 State Parks to Explore

Wisconsin is a state known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, and one of the best ways to soak in all the natural beauty it offers is by visiting its stunning state parks.

Wisconsin's state parks are a great family-friendly destination, with diverse parks, wildlife, and foliage that are sure to captivate visitors all year round.

Visitors can experience unbridled outdoor adventure and marvel at the awe-inspiring vistas. Camping in the state parks is also a fun and thrilling activity that should not be missed.

Most of the parks have on-site facilities and amenities for an enjoyable day trip or an overnight camping experience. However, remember to check weather conditions before venturing out, as the weather in Wisconsin can be unpredictable.

15 Splendid State Parks in Wisconsin, USA

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If you're eager to reconnect with nature and escape from the daily hustle, these 15 state parks are some of the best destinations in Wisconsin.

1. Peninsula State Park

Situated on the gorgeous Eagle Lake, Peninsula State Park has a vast expanse of 3,700 acres of untouched landscape and various outdoor recreation activities that will leave you spellbound. With 13 miles of hiking trails offering scenic views, 12 miles of bike trails to explore, and numerous boat rentals like kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and rowboats, visitors can do many fun-filled activities.

Penninsula Park offers a complete recreational experience and comes equipped with 460 campsites, an 18-hole golf course, a summer theatre, a lighthouse, and an 8-mile Door County shoreline with a sand beach. Park-goers can find six separate picnic areas each featuring grills, tables, and public restrooms. Pet picnic areas can be found in the Pines area near Nicolet Beach, making it an ideal spot for a summertime hangout with your furry friends.

Explore the beautiful Eagle Lake coves, take a scenic ferry cruise to Rock Island State Park, and scale the Eagle Tower for a spectacular view of the whole park. Hike amongst the bountiful evergreens and maples to experience the serene forests of Peninsula State Park. Whether you are hiking, sunbathing, or embarking on a scenic getaway with loved ones, Peninsula State Park promises to satisfy your craving for an epic adventure.

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2. Mirror Lake State Park

Mirror Lake State Park exemplifies the gorgeous beauty of Wisconsin and is located in the stunning Central Sands region, covering nearly 2,200 acres of diverse landscapes. In the summer, the park is perfect for fishing, hiking, camping, swimming, boating, and quaint picnicking.

Visitors can relish over 19 miles of hiking trails, ranging from light walks to intimidating hill climbs. There are over nine miles of smooth paved bike trails perfect for leisurely rides or much-needed intense workouts. The 10-acre lake provides an ideal setting for engaging in swimming, fishing, and paddling fun activities. Visitors can rent boats and explore this enchanting body of water.

The shore of the lake is set against a backdrop of dense forest and imposing rocky cliffs that soar up to 50 feet. Mirror Lake's wetlands and swimming beach are a haven for those who love nature and birdwatching, as they are home to a diverse collection of wildlife. 

Mirror Lake State Park offers an abundance of amenities, such as hundreds of family campsites nestled within lush forest campgrounds bordered by tall oak and pine trees. Each campsite is equipped with a fire pit and picnic table, providing ample space for both tents and RVs.

For those who want to stay overnight, they can rent a cozy camper cabin. The park also offers seven tent-only group campsites that are large enough to accommodate up to 20 people.

3. Potawatomi State Park

Potawatomi State Park is located in Wisconsin's Door County, to the Northwest of Sturgeon Bay. The park spans over 1,200 acres and has a 2.5-mile shoreline, making it ideal for water sports enthusiasts who enjoy fishing, camping, biking, swimming, kayaking, and climbing. Its gently sloping landscape features picturesque trails that lead to stunning views of Lake Michigan and breathtaking sunsets. 

The park has several nature trails for visitors to explore, as well as protected swimming areas that are perfect for the summer months. Potawatomi State Park boasts a range of flora and fauna that attracts thousands of visitors annually. Fortunately, hotels and resorts abound in Door County, which is perfect for any traveler.

The park has an observation tower that is over 225 feet above the bay level. Visitors can enjoy the stunning views of the park's layout, Lake Michigan, and the surrounding areas. Ensuring that you book in advance is important, as it can be challenging to find spots, particularly during peak season. The park is open throughout the year, and the regular camping season is from spring to fall.

4. Big Foot Beach State Park

Big Foot Beach State Park is situated on Lake Geneva and has five miles of hiking trails to explore its 272-acre expanse. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular in winter for both local and visiting enthusiasts. 

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The family-friendly campground is popular with families and features picnic areas, a playground, and a swimming beach. Many families flock to Big Foot Beach State Park during the summer break to enjoy some time out in nature with their children.

Thanks to its lakeside location, visitors can enjoy boating, canoeing, and kayaking during the spring and summer. Fishing and archery-only hunting are permitted. The park offers a 100-ft designated swimming area, perfect for staying cool during the summer months. Although there are no lifeguards on duty, the water is clean and calm, making it safe for everyone to enjoy.

Finding accommodation close to Big Foot Beach State Park isn't challenging, as there's a variety of resorts and cabins in Lake Geneva to choose from.

5. Devil’s Lake State Park

Devils Lake State Park is one of the most stunning locations in Wisconsin, rivaling some of the national parks in the area. The beautiful Wisconsin state park spans over 9,217 acres and features a large lake nestled in the middle, with two opposite beach ends, located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, conveniently situated 30 minutes away from Wisconsin Dells and an hour away from Madison.

Though camping is a popular activity, getting a campsite may require reserving months ahead since they're quickly taken. The park has many hiking trails that loop around the landscape, offering visitors scenic views of the lake.

Park amenities include bathrooms, picnic tables, grill areas, and even a store where visitors can purchase food and drinks. Devils Lake State Park is perfect for water sport enthusiasts, as it allows kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding, fishing, among other activities.

If you're a city dweller looking to escape hustle and bustle, Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee is the perfect destination. This 22-acre park offers numerous recreational activities including canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding on the lake. Unlike most state parks in Wisconsin, there is no need to pay for parking or admission, making it budget-friendly for travellers. For those craving outdoor exercise, Lakeshore State Park harbours one of the largest marinas in Wisconsin with almost 300 available boat slips and rentals. This park is conveniently located near other popular Milwaukee attractions such as Summerfest Grounds and Milwaukee Art Museum.

Blue Mound State Park lies atop the highest hill in Southern Wisconsin, encompassing 1153 acres of endlessly mesmerising views. It features two 40-feet tall observation towers to capture stunning scenery of the surrounding areas, including the countryside terrain, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, and Baraboo Bluffs. The park offers a variety of recreational activities such as hiking, swimming, camping, and cross-country skiing, boasting over 77 camping sites equipped with water fountains, picnic tables, and restrooms. Some camping sites even have electrical hookups, but the park encourages guests to unplug and disconnect from technology; it is intended to offer a true escape from city life.

Rock Island State Park allows you to experience a secluded adventure, as it is located on the Door County Peninsula, not far from Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Visitors must take a ferry to access the park, as vehicles are not permitted. The park is significant for its Pottawatomie Lighthouse and stone buildings constructed a century ago. The lighthouse is a popular attraction, offering free tours from 10 am to 4 pm each day, giving you a view of the surrounding area from the lantern room. Campers can stay in walk-in campsites that cater to those in search of a rustic experience. Miles of hiking trails wrap around the shoreline, and guests can take a swim and enjoy the beach on warm summer days.

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Copper Falls State Park spans 3068-acres and is located in Ashland, Wisconsin. This state park offers an opportunity to see ancient lava flows and log buildings erected in the 1930s, all while appreciating the stunning waterfalls and gorges. Visitors can enjoy various recreational activities such as camping, hiking, cycling, fishing, and swimming in Loon Lake. Make sure to take a stroll through Doughboy’s Nature Trail, rated one of the state’s top short hikes, to truly appreciate the natural beauty of the park.

If you're looking for some outdoor adventure in Wisconsin, then you've come to the right place! There are plenty of facilities available for day guests and overnight visitors at Copper Falls State Park, including picnic tables and campsites. Don't forget to check the opening hours of the concession stand in the main picnic area before you visit.

Why not rent a watercraft or snowshoes from the park office and explore the stunning Copper Falls State Park for yourself? It's open all year round, but be sure to check which facilities are available during your visit to avoid disappointment.

Yellowstone Lake State Park is another hidden gem to add to your list! Located in the southwest area, it boasts incredible landscapes of forests, wetlands, and prairies. You can explore over 4 miles of off-road biking and hiking trails and choose from a variety of campsites if you're planning to spend the night. There are nine designated picnic areas and a picnic shelter available for rental. Fishing enthusiasts can rent boats and gear from the park office and explore the 455 acres of water, which are home to trout, bass, pike, and other popular species. The park is even open for ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing during the winter months!

Rocky Arbor State Park may be small at only 244 acres, but it offers a peaceful romantic getaway with its nature trails, sandstone rocks, and rock formations. The park's camping grounds cater to both tents and large RVs, and visitors can enjoy picnicking, hunting, winter hiking, and snowshoeing. If you're looking for a water park experience, a short drive will take you to Noah's Ark Waterpark or other nearby water parks.

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Perrot State Park is the birdwatcher's paradise of Wisconsin, spanning 1200 acres of rivers, wetlands, bluffs, and more. The park offers breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and has kayaks, canoes, bikes, and other rentals available at local shops. Family camping sites and group campsites are available, complete with restrooms and showers. Be sure to visit the nature center to learn about the park's history and the people who initially settled there.

Last but definitely not least, High Cliff State Park offers stunning views of Lake Winnebago and unique geological formations. There's a wide range of activities to enjoy, including hiking, biking, fishing, and even golfing! The park has over 100 campsites with showers and restrooms, making it a perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Don't forget to check out the impressive observation tower for an unforgettable view of the park.

Located on Lake Winnebago, the vast 1187-acre High Cliff State Park has a wide array of fun activities for visitors to choose from, including mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. With magnificent cliffs, mounds, forestland, and a sprawling shoreline, there is no shortage of stunning landscapes to admire. An absolute must-see attraction is the towering statue of Winnebago Indian Chief Red Bird offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the lake. With a deep Native American history, the park has over 100 campsites, including pet-friendly options, and washing and restroom facilities for overnight visitors.

Far up North in South Range, Wisconsin, lies the picturesque 825-acre Amnicon Falls State Park, with its series of waterfalls along the winding Amnicon River, leading to an island and a historic bridge. Whether hiking the two-mile trail to capture scenic views of the rapids and waterfalls, picnicking, or camping for a day or two, there is plenty to engage in. The site has 26 family-friendly campsites, though swimming is discouraged due to fluctuating levels and river conditions. You can enjoy winter hiking and snowshoeing on the 1.5-mile trail in winter while taking in the stunning views from the Horton Bridge.

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Newport State Park is a hidden gem located near Door County, accessible via State Highway 42. The park extends over 2,373 acres and offers over 30 miles of trails along Lake Michigan for hiking enthusiasts. Newport is also perfect for kayaking or canoeing on the waterfront. With 17 campsites, picnic spots, and sandy beaches spread over several miles of shoreline, there's always something to do. Newport is also an excellent spot for stargazing as it is designated as a Dark Sky Park. Open all year round, the park offers an abundance of winter activities.

Wisconsin boasts amazing state parks that cater to everyone, providing nature lovers with a range of activities and diverse landscapes. With Middle Western and tropical areas across the United States as his destinations, Martin is an avid hiking and camping enthusiast who has lived in Wisconsin for most of his life. Next time you visit Wisconsin, be sure to visit at least one of the state parks for an unforgettable experience.

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